Insurance Myths, Truths & Tips
Like other RVillagers, I’ve been purchasing insurance coverage for our home and vehicles for many years. I thought I knew all about it. But as of last week, I discovered I really don’t. And I’ve probably been overpaying, and worse yet may not have enough coverage for the RV I love.
Recently, I tuned into “Coffee with Curtis”, a live online webcast hosted by Curtis Coleman, RVillage’s founder and CEO. His guest was Courtney Wooge, president of Farm City Insurance Services (FCIS), and they addressed several important myths and truths surrounding RV insurance.
When we purchased our fifth wheel five years ago, I contacted our local insurance agent and added yet another policy to our vehicle and home coverage. Probably not the best idea, according to Curtis and Courtney. “That may not be your best deal,” said Courtney. “Many carriers and local agents just don’t understand RVs and classify them as part of their ‘power sports’ business. You must consider what’s in your RV vs. what’s in your car. If your car should tip over, maybe a few loose coins and some Chapstick will fall out. If your RV tips over, it’s a different story.”
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Curtis added, “Cars and RVs are very different. Many insurance companies don’t do a lot of RV business, and they don’t understand what’s involved in providing coverage.”
If we should incur an RV claim, Courtney pointed out that the settlement options on the back end are very different from those of an automobile claim. “Many insurance carriers don’t understand what’s actually contained in an RV. At the end of the day, the reason you pay for insurance is in case you ever have a claim. If your car is involved in an accident, the insurance company will pay for the damage to the car. If that should happen to your RV, it could be more than body damage. That accident could also harm your satellite dish, or ding one of your holding tanks. You need a claims adjustor who understands RVs and their parts and contents.”
As a broker, Courtney and his staff at FCIS can obtain quotes from multiple RV insurance carriers, including National General, Progressive, Nationwide and others. FCIS has been doing this for years on behalf of the members and customers of FMCA, Newmar, Holiday Rambler, Winnebago and naturally, RVillage. Courtney is the second-generation owner of the company (which was founded by his Dad) and also travels in his motorhome with his family. As a broker, FCIS earns a commission from the insurance carrier, not the customer, and as they know what questions to ask the companies, they are often able to get better rates than an individual consumer calling the carrier directly, providing the best deals out there.
“There are more than 50 variables with RV insurance,” said Courtney. “So many issues affect your insurance rates, including the age of the drivers, where the unit is garaged, the make and model, if the individual belongs to an RV club, including RVillage. Carriers offer discounts for individuals who have completed an RV driving course. We include all these factors and more when we price out a policy.”
On the claims side, FCIS can also be most helpful. “We have a claims specialist who has your back,” said Courtney. “When we get involved in a claim, it usually goes much better for the client than if they were to handle it on their own.”An enthusiastic audience of RVillagers participated in the session, with even more people watching it later at on the RVillage YouTube channel. Naturally, they peppered Courtney with many questions.
One RVillager wanted to know what the best coverage is for weekend warriors—those who are not doing a lot of RV travel but using their rig on short vacations and weekends. Courtney explained that coverage is based on days of usage. “If you sleep in your RV less than 30 days during the year, you’ll have lower premiums. Mid-range is for those who sleep in their rig 30-150 days. You are considered a full-timer if you spend more than 150 nights in your RV.”
There were many questions pertaining to full timers’ coverage. “Typically, your homeowners’ policy will cover any liability issues you may have while camping,” said Courtney. “If someone trips and falls at your campsite and sues you, your homeowners’ insurance should cover you. However, full timers who don’t own a home also don’t have homeowners’ policies and need liability coverage. Many insurance carriers won’t offer those types of policies. We do.”
A full-timer who lives in her motorhome, but does not tow a car asked if there was a policy for rental cars. As most insurance policies are sold on an annual basis, Courtney advised that she purchase the rental insurance at the counter to avoid complications.
Another question was about coverage if you are storing your RV. Courtney mentioned that some carriers do offer discounted rates for storage layout, but he does not recommend it. “So many people forget to reinstate their coverage so turning it on and off isn’t always a good idea. I suggest you put a sticky note on the steering wheel saying ‘NO coverage, do not drive!’ And we usually find that if you keep the annual weekend warrior rate it’s lower.”
Another RVillager has converted a small school bus into a tiny home and wanted to know about acquiring insurance coverage. “In order to get coverage, ’schoolies’ must be converted by a professional,” said Courtney. “If you have a homemade conversion, you’ll only be able to purchase liability coverage. But if you provide pictures and receipts from the conversion, we can obtain full coverage.”
Many questions were about RV travel to Canada and Mexico. “If you’re in Canada for six months or more, you’ll need to buy a Canadian policy,” said Courtney. However, RV travel to Mexico is a different story. “You can buy a policy for the amount of time you are in Mexico,” Courtney said. “It’s best to buy in advance rather than at the border, as you’ll need to show you have proof of liability. And you need to consider what you are taking into the country. Will you be unhooking your tow vehicle or trailer? We can definitely help you plan and insure travel in Mexico.”
Curtis pointed out that because all RVers are different, our needs are unique. Courtney recommends that we each establish the coverages we want before looking at premium pricing. “You can always start peeling back,” he said. “But keep your liability limits as high as possible, as they really don’t have a significant effect on the premium pricing. And remember that towable RVs’ premiums will be cheaper than motorized units. Think about that when you are considering buying a new rig.”
After listening to Courtney, Curtis and other RVillagers, I realize that in the excitement of purchasing a new rig, I did not do a good job of researching insurance options—it was just one more thing to get done. Now I’m visiting FCIS online at RV Advantage to explore some alternatives. As Curtis said during the program, it’s worth 20 minutes of my time.
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